eLearning courses, whether long or short, can be daunting projects. It becomes even more complex when they’re produced for non-English speaking students. This is in large part due to the course needing to be translated into one or more languages. Understanding the potential pitfalls early on can help you avoid a lot of frustration. Read on for some potential challenges of eLearning translations—and how to avoid them.

1. Blocks of Text That Won’t Fit

It may be tempting to present your instructional materials in big blocks of text—after all, this is how most of us feel comfortable writing. There are a few reasons that you should avoid this:

  • Large blocks of text may not fit in the translated version, since many languages have up to 30% more words than English.
  • Blocks of text are more difficult to skim through and comprehend.
  • Visually breaking up text makes concepts stand out more.

Solution:

Consider language expansion and comprehension as you write the course. Make use of space and don’t cram too much information into a paragraph. Use bullet points, bolding, and short sentences to convey the information.

By saving space, translated text will fit better. Your material will also be more concise and easy to use. A win-win!

If your English version is too long to translate within the space, don’t panic. Trim down nonessential information and you may be surprised at how much you can condense for the finished product!

2. Culturally Offensive Images

Images and videos aid visual learners in any e-learning course. When writing for multiple audiences, be sure to choose general and appropriate images that will not offend anyone.

The last thing you want to do is offend your international audience!

Solution:

Keep it neutral. Stick with basic images and include diversity when using images of people. Of course, be culturally considerate.

3. Idioms, Sayings, and Jargon

We speak in idioms and sayings all the time, often assuming that everyone else understands them.

It’s very easy to include idioms, sayings, and unexplained jargon in your eLearning course unintentionally. The problem is that many of these words and phrases do not have direct translations, making translation challenging for the user.

Solution:

Review the material as you write your course. Are there alternative words or phrases you can use? There’s always another way to get your point across; you don’t have to be dependent on idioms and slang!

4. Video and Audio Timing

The English language has fewer words per sentence than many languages. Translations can sometimes cause audio and video timing to be off sync. Subtitles can also correspond to the wrong frames or supplemental text. This can be very confusing and annoying for students using the course as well as impede their learning.

Solution:

Leave extra space and time in video and audio files when creating your courses. Consider the length of the translated course—it is better to leave more room than too little to allow for timing variations.

5. Incompatible Fonts

It may not seem important, but your choice of font could impact your translation project. Not all fonts have the equivalent accents for some languages. This can cause a problem in translation, particularly if you want the course to look the same across languages.

Solution:

Use a neutral font that is available in the languages that you need. A neutral font will make the course easier to read and use.

6. Multiple Mediums

When you’re incorporating audio, video, text, and interactive content, translation becomes extremely complex. You need something that will able to effectively and efficiently translate your message.

Solution:

Choose a turnkey solution, instead of hiring an independent translator. A language service will have the experience in e-learning translations to ensure that all mediums are consistent, high-quality, and completed on deadline.

Is your e-learning course ready for translation? 

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